Child COVID-19 Vaccination: Keeping Students Healthy and in Schools

With approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, the CDC released guidance on how schools can play a part in keeping students safe and in schools learning.

Topics: Pandemic Leadership, Health and Wellness

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination for children ages 5 to 11 years. The approval means about 28 million children in the U.S. in this age group are eligible for the vaccine. What does this mean for schools? According to the CDC, vaccination is the best tool to keep our students safe from COVID-19, maintain in-person learning, and prevent the closure of schools and cancellation of valued extracurricular activities. Vaccination, paired with prevention strategies—masking, testing, tracing, distancing, and improving ventilation—that are layered and implemented correctly can significantly limit COVID-19 transmission.

Because parents listen to school leaders and teachers, schools play a vital role in providing access to the vaccine and trusted information on it. As such, the CDC is asking school leaders to help to build trust around the COVID-19 vaccine for children in three ways.

  1. Host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at your school. Hosting a clinic for your school is simple. The CDC has developed resources and an easy-to-follow toolkit for schools to use in standing clinics up. There is ample funding and resources available through the American Rescue Plan Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, as well as reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to ensure you can cover costs of hosting a clinic, including on-site set-up and operations as well as outreach and engagement activities.
  2. Distribute information about the COVID-19 vaccine to school families with children ages 5-11. Parents rely on their children’s teachers, principals, school nurses, and other school personnel to help keep their students safe and healthy every school year. The communication you issue—in languages accessible to your parents—are critical in helping families learn more about the vaccine, including the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and why they are critical in protecting individuals from COVID-19, lowering community and family transmission, and keeping children safely in in-person learning.
  3. Hold conversations with your school communities on the COVID-19 vaccine. Schools have approached community engagement on the vaccine using a variety of means, including in-person and virtual townhalls, small group conversations, cohosting discussions with PTAs and other parent-serving organizations, and more. These conversations are crucial in helping families learn more about the vaccine and giving them an opportunity to be able to ask questions in real time of trusted professionals. Hosting these conversations in partnership with medical professionals in your community can help ensure that parents have access to all the information they need to make their vaccine decisions.

Learn more about how your school can help keep students healthy and in schools.